Monday, July 15, 2019

DM Report: Seaward - The South Ford of the White River and Pirate Port

  In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of my 1e campaign next month we started a cycle again.

  The South Ford of the White River: The evil Lord Whitehill, formerly a noble warrior of the grand Duchy of High Morath, has completed his fortress in the Bandit Lands south of the capitol city. Only the foul magics of his consort, Lady Jacinth, allowed him to do so over the winter.
  The king has hastily erected a line of towers and rushed reinforcements to Longnor Fell, the walled town that protects the norther ford over the White River. he also sent out the word - all noblemen and knights of the realm must prepare for war. The nobles of Ekull must guard the Briars, Eagle Valley, and the Stone Hills;  Timberlake the North and the border with Eastford; and this frees royal forces to muster against Whitehill.
  The paladins of the Shining Keep also are mustering to the king and, for the first time, the monks of the Order of the Way are sending members to war under the banner of Seaward.
  Also summoned? The Company of the Dark Moon.




1 hex = 2 miles

  The Marshal gave the Company a mission; prevent Whitehill's men from completing a motte and bailey at the South Ford of the White River. The Company sent:

  Ingrid: 6th level fighter (played by Jen)
      Doit: 5th level Religious Brother (henchman)
      Leoris: 4/4 Mage/Thief half-elf (henchman)
      Marianna: 2nd level Illusionist (henchman)
  Akira: 5th level monk [The Man with the Eldritch Fists] (played by Nick)
  Starkiller: 4/5/4 Fighter/Cleric/Mage (played by Alex)
  Greystar: 5th level mage (played by Sam)
      Ailith: 3rd level Cleric (henchman)
      Bechtol: 3rd level Fighter (henchman)
  Hans Schreck: 6th level Fighter halfling [The World's Strongest halfling] (played by jack)
      Rebekah: 2nd level Cleric (henchman)
      Ernest: 3rd level hedge Mage (henchman)
      Hanz and Franz: both 3rd level Barbarians (henchmen)

      10 pikemen
      5 shortbowmen
      5 light horsemen
      4 grooms

 For a total of 14 with character sheets and 38 overall, all with horses.

  The team struck out cross country from the southern outskirts of Seaward stopping at the King's Towers the first night, then a cold camp, then toward the trail from Whitehills' castle toward the ford where scouts observed a strong force of pikemen, light crossbowmen, spearmen, and officers on horses, in total more than 120 soldiers.
  The Company struck off for the motte and bailey. Scouts reported 60 slaves working on earthworks with 12 slave drivers (on foot with whips and cudgels), 6 medium cavalry (spears, clubs), and three officers - 2 warrior types in full plate and shield and an older man in robes.
  Even after many days all that existed was a barracks for the troops, a ramshackle cottage for the officers and a stout stockade for the prisoners. The earthworks were pitiable compared to what royal troops could have done in the same amount of time.
  Hans had Akira mount up behind him, made sure his War Moose construct mount had a full water tank, and Ingrid crept up on the officers with Leoris, both of them invisible....
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  The initial fight was brutal and swift, with the main body (everyone but Hans, Akira, Ingrid, and Leoris) taking on the slavedrivers and cavalry in a terribly one-sided battle.
  As they closed (rapidly, the war moose can do 20 mph!) Akira dismounted very close and attacked the captain before he could even get into his warhorse - and stunned him! At the same time Hans attacked the lieutenant and Ingrid with Leoris attacked the mage.
  The mage went down and everyone in the strike team but Leoris focused on the lieutenant.
  He fought hard and it took three rounds to kill him. In that time the main body killed enough of the rest that the (few) survivors fled in panic to be cut down by the archers. Leoris went to the stunned captain and did a coup de grace. The lieutenant, a hard man and dedicated demon cultist, fought to the death.

  Very rapidly the party set the slaves free while locking the prisoners in the stockade. The sent the slaves towards Adrian accompanied by the grooms and all the food they could spare, then turned towards the approaching reinforcements, now less than 2 miles away!

  The party set up the mercenaries and the henchman on a hillock and waited; as the enemy got into bowshot the party rode forth. The enemy drew up into a pikewall flanked by spearmen with the crossbowmen behind, the light cavalry on the PC's left flank, all of the officers (almost 12 heavy cavalry!) on the PC's right. And, worst of all, a man in robes flew straight up from the back!
  Greystar had his Crossbow of Comprehensive Instructions ready-
Crossbow of Comprehensive Instructions: this heavy crossbow includes a series of pictograms and symbols engraved into the stock; it can be fired by any creature of a 5 or higher Intelligence capable of wielding a crossbow as if they were proficient as long as they spend 3 segments (18 seconds) reviewing the instructions before each shot
 - and skewered the flying mage before he was out of range!

  Greystar immediately gulped a Potion of Levitation and began ascending as the rest of the part closed, the mercenaries and henchmen in reserve (shortbowmen firing, of course).
  The PCs slammed into the officers and the brawl really began. Hans, Ingird, and Akira took on the mounted officers while Starkiller fending off the 20 spearmen trying to encircle the party. Over the next few minutes Hans, Ingrid, and Akira took out the senior officers, Starkiller slaughtered fifteen of the twenty spearmen opposing him, and the Company shortbowmen hit with 24 out of 30 shots - the dice were so hot for the hirelings I took over rolling for them for a round, but their numbers got better, so I let the PCs roll the rest.
  In the skies Greystar went through a low cloud to see the enemy mage getting components ready - he fired as fast as he could and killed the evil mage before he could drop a Wall of Ice on the PC's hirelings and henchmen!
  Back on earth the loss of the officers, the slaughter of the spearmen by Starkiller, and the damage from the archers was too much and the surviving troops fled in panic, tossing aside weapons and shields as they scattered. Greystar was drifting down to land and the PCs rallying to their troops when....
  The Red Maiden stooped down from the skies, her giant owl as silent as death, straight at Akira! The party rolled and all were surprised, but Akira's danger sense (and better monk surprise!0 meant he dove aside at the last minute - the owl slamming down 'only' killed the heavy warhorse Akira had been riding. The Red Maiden, laughing manically, fired her wand at Akira - and he dodged it. The Red Maiden and her owl used the remaining surprise rounds to savage the poor, surprised pikemen that were close enough to her wiping them all out in a bloody wave of destruction.

  Then a lot of things happened at once:
  The party came out of surprise and got initiative;
  Hans pulled out his magical Warhammer enchanted to do double damage to creatures that can cast arcane spells as abilities and charged;
  Hanz and Franz, the barbarian brothers, went berserk.
  Everyone else closed.

  In all the years I have run the Red Maiden she has never been below 44 h.p. At the end of the first round she was at 44 h.p. and the barbarian brothers had killed her owl, spilling her to the ground.
  Greystar missed with his Consecrated bolt.
  Then it was a dogpile on the grounded Maiden and by the end of the third round she was dead, although having done some serious damage.
  In death she reverted to her natural form as a rakshasa. A Consecrated bolt was plunged into her heart, her head was taken and burned separately.

  The party looted the dead and took a few items. Back at the ford they mounted all of the heads and shields of officers on poles facing East toward Whitehill and forced their prisoners to fill in the trenches. The next morning they marched prisoners toward Adrian.

Notes: This was about 3-4 real years of anticipation wrapped up! The Red Maiden was the last of the Three Monsters of the Mountains, and she is gone; this will be a huge relief to 4 nations. It is also making the final attack against Whitehill (which I suspect will be Battlesystem at a high level and then an adventure to wrap up) closer than ever.
  The players all thanked me for the game and are writing their own notes.

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Pirate Port: On the coast Whitehill had set up a pier at the base of the rough cliffs and was trading with the pirates of the Pirate Isles. By sea it was guarded by some sort of whirlpool. The king wanted it shut down so the flow of food, weapons, slaves, and recruits would stop.
 Clarence, a Chaotic Neutral assassin in the king's service, was tasked with doing so, he asked that two members of the Black Guild he knew, both sentenced to death (two assassins) be loaned to him as assistants in return for exile instead of execution.
  the men on the mission:
  Clarence: 6th level assassin (played by Sam)
      Franciosie 'Frankie Waghalter': 3rd evel assassin (NPC)
      Breaker: 5th assassin (NPC)

  Clarence was eager to go because he was on a huge quest, described below.
After a brief detour to the Monastery of the Order of the Way to get Frankie and Breaker to take a Great Oath, they were off on the boat of a known smuggler who had a score to settle with Whitehill. The smuggler said all sorts of recruits were welcome and agents of the king had given him 400 quarrels and 12 casks of lamp oil as his cargo.
  As the ship passed through the shoals and reefs that shield the cove of Pirate Port they all heard a cackling; whirling around they spied an imp in the rigging. Since it could detect no Good on the ship it was allowed into the cove safely.
  Once docked the smuggler began haggling for fees and a recruiter scooped up the three assassin, all of whom claimed to be former town guards and militia men who had heard Whitehill paid well in beer, slaves, and loot. They were tested for fighting skills, passed, and were told to report the next morning at dawn but to 'enjoy themselves' in the meantime. All their money and their weapons (well - the stuff they wanted found) were 'put somewhere safe'.
  Inside the cove was only a long pier, a small warehouse, and stairs up the 90' tall cliffs that surrounded it. At the top of the cliffs was a crane (powered by slaves) that took cargo up and down. The "town" was all a bunch of slap-dash buildings - a large tavern, a sort of flop house, and shacks for the people that worked there. A small, well-built shed was by the crane. Further away was a barracks, a stable, and a house for officers.
  Working the men the learned a lot: there were two 'regiments' here, each of about 120 men (each roughly like the force seen going to the ford, above); one of Lady Jacinth's witches was with the officers to protect the cove; the men were 'paid' in ale or wine and their wages were to come from future loot. The men were somewhat discontent - the tavern would give more ale for money, but they had very little money. The 'wages' were not enough to get drunk and these were the sort of men interested in getting drunk!
  But discipline was swift, sure, and harsh. Sergeants could have any man stripped of his ale rations for a day without reason needed and if a sergeant had a real complaint floggings were common, Lieutenants could do a lot worse and the two captains (once for each regiment) could do damn near anything they could think of, and did.
  But the tales of loot from raids in Banath and the few men who had slaves from past battles or raids kept the rest of the scum as motivated as did the fear.
 Now understanding why the recruiter had taken the few silver pennies the assassins had in their purses 'to prevent theft' they hatched a plan. They quietly approached the bartenders (two of them) and slipped out the money they had hidden on their persons quickly ordering many rounds 'on the house; for their 'new friends' as well as getting a big cask and some mugs to take with them.
  With the ale flowing free soon even the two sergeants there to 'keep order' (and who were sent a flask of dwarven schnapps each!) were drinking hard. The assassins got a few drinking songs going, then slipped out.

  They went to the crane, which was still working even though it was full night. The smuggler was long gone, but the 12 casks of lamp oil were at the top of the cliff, ready to be taken to the warehouse. The three men brought the guard and the two workers a 'gift' of ale and, while they were all drinking, slit their throats (all the assassination rolls were very low, too!). They cut lose the slaves working the winch and told them to head South into the forest for a day or two, then they would be safe.
  Setting burning rags to the casks they then began tossing them down the cliff, setting the stairs, dock, and warehouse aflame. They tossed the dead men down, too, then went back to the tavern slipping back into the party as if they had never left.

  It was a long time before anyone noticed the fire and by then it was far too late - the entire pier was a loss as were the men who had either burned or drowned.
  Everyone was rounded up into the barracks and given dire warnings to not leave.
  At dawn the captains came out and summarily hanged the two sergeants from the tavern. Then they hanged the lieutenant that was in charge of them and should have also been there to keep order.
  After some discussion the captains rounded up the men from the tavern party, but neither Frankie nor Breaker could be found. Listed as deserters (along with about 4 others) the rest, including Clarence, were brough to stand before a dais. the captains sat there as did a short, rather plain woman with an unpleasant air about her - Murty the witch!
  Murty was accompanied by a wee man with blue skin and green eyes, all no more than 9" tall.
 Murty swore she would get to the bottom of things and whispered to the wee man who bowed, and then turned into a dustdevil that raced away. Clarence, who knows a genie when he sees one, realized Murty is a Summoner. As the genie was returning Clarence gave the signal and drank a Potion of Invisibility.
  In one smooth move Breaker and Frankie, who had taken his other two potions, struck, killing the senior captain and Murty with assassinations (more great rolls and some poison). Now invisible Clarence began yelling,
  "The paladins! the paladins are attacking! To the armory! The paladins are attacking!"

  The junior captain was now fighting Breaker as Frankie was using poisoned darts to slaughter the men coming to the captain's aid. After 2 rounds of this Breaker and Frankie sprinted off in different directions, blending into the mass of panicked bandits.
  The surviving captain began trying to rally the men, a perfect time for Clarence to backstab him with his Dagger of Venom, which was enough to kill the last senior officer.
  By now the fire Breaker and Frankie had set at the stable and the horses were bolting in every direction, adding to the confusion. Clarence went to the 'village' where Breaker and Frankie were waiting with the three light warhorses they had stolen earlier. The three immediately rode north toward the King's Towers.

The Quest: Although Clarence the CN assassin has been a lot of fun Sam found the character very limiting. When he got a Ring of Limited Wishes he came to me with a plan; all the limited wishes in return for Changes; after his work in previous adventures this Blow Against Evil was the last step.
Once they returned to the capitol Frankie and Breaker were put on a ship bound for Tonilda, sworn to never return. Clarence went to sleep...
  ...and woke up a Neutral Good 5/4 Fighter/Ninja.
  (Hell, yes, I have ninja - Oriental Adventures rocks! And I always allowed Good ones).
  To all outward appearances, same guy, but now with a sunny disposition.

Notes: While the loss of the pier and equipment is bad, the loss of officers is a lot worse for Whitehill. Add in the fact that his 'troops' deserted in fairly large numbers from Pirate Cove and he is getting stretched a bit thin. Most ominously for him, the army of Seaward is finally mobilizing, and it is known for being few in number but of very high quality.
  This was a solo adventure for Sam, and we both really enjoyed it.

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